Showing posts with label Puerto Rico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puerto Rico. Show all posts

March 8, 2020

30,000 Students in Puerto Rico Go Back To Schools in Tents



                         The bottom floor of the Agripina Seda school in Guánica, Puerto Rico, collapsed after one of the recent earthquakes there.



                        Image result for puerto rico school tents



PENUELAS, Puerto Rico — About 30,000 students in Puerto Rico’s southern region are going back to school Monday after a two-month delay caused by January’s earthquake. But with a high chance of another quake and the schools a long way from being rebuilt, students will be starting their semester in tents. 
In the wake of the Jan. 7 earthquake that devastated the island’s south and damaged 84 schools — roughly 10 percent of the island’s public schools — classes across the island were put on indefinite hold. Week by week, the Department of Education opened schools that hadn’t been damaged. But in Peñuelas, a city on the island’s southern coast where schools were severely damaged, teachers couldn’t wait for their schools to be repaired.

Odette Báez, a local school principal, and the teacher’s union set up La Escuela Pública Vive, a volunteer-led initiative run in a park that is meant to engage students while school is out of session. 
“We wanted them to continue with their educational processes and at the same time receive socio-emotional support so that they could know that we are still on our feet, despite everything,” Báez told VICE News. 
After weeks of the park initiative being in session, the Puerto Rico Department of Education announced its plan to resume classes in tents until it fully inspects the damaged schools. 
That process could take as much as two to three years, and in the meantime, students and teachers will carry on with limited schooldays ending after lunch, and the fear of more tremors. 
“Living in the south is like always being worried,” Yazel Ramos, a high school junior, said. “Even though the ground isn’t shaking, sometimes you feel like it is, and you get scared.”
The earthquake damage compounds the education system’s already pressing problems. As an economic recession and natural disasters forced hundreds of thousands of students to leave the island, nearly half of all public schools closed between 2006 and 2018, according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. And the earthquake has led more students to leave. Baez says that over 100 students have left her school alone since the earthquake.

March 3, 2020

Puerto Rico in Bunkers~~~Could This Take This Long in France or Florida?






Here is the set that was played at the La Isla Bonita 2 Fundraiser for Puerto Rican earthquake relief. It was an amazing night and I hope that this helps you relive it if you were there.
Listen, stream and share, but most of all DANCE!








GUÁNICA, P.R. — Nearly two months after an earthquake sent the population of southwest Puerto Rico rushing into the streets, thousands of people are still slumbering each night under camping tents, on cots, in their cars and in enormous open tents that serve as government shelters.

Long after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake sent powerful shock waves across the island on Jan. 7, the ground continues to shake. Over the past week, 43 earthquakes classified as “significant” have struck, according to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, part of a prolonged and terrifying series of seismic events not seen on the island since 1918.  A house in the town of Guánica recently collapsed after a fresh 3.8 magnitude temblor.

And while most of the recent aftershocks have been relatively mild — only five over the past week exceeded 3.5 in magnitude — the cumulative damage and constant rattling have left many Puerto Ricans with their confidence deeply shaken.

Hundreds of families are unable to pay for repairs to their ravaged homes. Others are unwilling to trust government inspectors’ assurances that their houses are safe.
“I expected to be relocated to a trailer or a hotel,” said Pedro A. Ramírez, a 65-year-old war veteran who was still staying last week in a government shelter in Guánica with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren. “I am not expecting them to give me a house. But the only way to get assistance for food is by being here, so they force you to be here. It’s a trap.”

The number of earthquake survivors still living outdoors has surfaced as a tricky challenge for local and federal agencies that are struggling to find housing on an island where more than 8,000 homes are in need of an overhaul as a result of the temblors.

More than two years after Hurricane Maria brought devastation that in some places has still not been repaired, emergency management officials facing the latest natural disasters appear to lack cohesive strategies to keep survivors safe and are improvising as they go along, according to a number of local officials, legal advocates and academic analysts who are watching the response.

“If they learned anything from Hurricane Maria, they are not making it apparent,” said Yarimar Bonilla, an anthropologist at Hunter College who has spent extensive time in the camps. “Maybe they learned that they don’t have to do anything and people will sort it out because that’s what they are doing.”


Shelters were located in flood-prone areas, causing some of the dormitory-style tends to be flooded with mud, and more than 150 schools have yet to reopen.  Distrust of the government prompted many people to set up their own camps along busy roads rather than use shelters managed by the authorities.

Mr. Ramírez and his family stayed under a large, three-sided tent provided by the island government. He and his wife took turns keeping watch over their salvaged belongings while they waited to find out whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency would offer enough disaster aid to repair their damaged home. When their 12-year-old grandson had to go to the bathroom, Mr. Ramírez accompanied him: a registered sex offender from his neighborhood was also staying at the shelter.

After almost two months, the family finally gave up on waiting for federal assistance and went to a relative’s house.

“My granddaughter is asthmatic and spent the whole time at the camp coughing,” Mr. Ramírez’s wife, Nancy Santiago, said.

Out of the roughly 8,300 houses that were damaged in the Jan. 7 earthquakes, about 2,500 are uninhabitable, according to the Puerto Rico Department of Housing.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far allocated $20 million to about 8,500 applicants, most of that for home repairs and some to pay for rent.  More than 30,000 people applied.

But government officials insist that at least half of the people sleeping under the stars are responding not to structural damage to their homes, but to the emotional strain of frequent tremors. There were more than 3,000 quakes within about 20 miles of the epicenter of Puerto Rico’s quake in January alone, according to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network.

The U.S. Geological Service said the aftershocks will continue for “years to decades” and that there is up to a 30 percent chance of an aftershock as big as the Jan. 7 quakes.

“Fear is the greatest enemy we have right now,” said Elizabeth A.  Vanacore, a seismologist at the University of Puerto Rico.

 Maria Aquino, at her damaged home in Yauco, P.R., has been sleeping outside in a tent.



Maria Aquino, at her damaged home in Yauco, P.R., has been sleeping outside in a tent.
Calls to the island’s suicide hotline have soared to up to 1,600 a day, according to the government mental health agency.

“It keeps shaking and the cracks in the house open even more,” said  Edel Santiago, 39, who set camp in a parking lot with his wife, son and 73-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
He said his family was one of many who were denied aid because their homes were certified as safe, a ruling he disagreed with.

“They certified my house as green, even though it has big, ugly cracks,” Mr. Santiago said. “The guy from FEMA said I could not live there, then another inspector came and put a green sticker on it.”

FEMA sent inspectors to nearly 30,000 homes and gave green armbands to any shelter resident whose house passed, though they were still allowed to remain at the shelter. People who disagree with the safety assessment on their house are being offered money to hire structural engineers, said Alex Amparo, FEMA’s coordinator in Puerto Rico.

 Christian Marcial Santiago, 9, plays with his dog at a makeshift camp in Guánica.


Onelio Velezleft and Luis Febus work on one-room structures at an encampment in Yauco where 10 families have been living since January.

Luis Vargas Delgado in his new temporary house at the encampment in Yauco. He lost his home during the earthquake and was injured after falling from his bike after a strong tremor.

Luis Vargas Delgado in his new temporary house at the encampment in Yauco. He lost his home during the earthquake and was injured after falling from his bike after a strong tremor.
“You see the green armband, you know their house is OK, but there is an emotional fear they have,” he said. “At this point, our job is not really to judge them, but to help them through that.”
FEMA has spent more than $2 million to help Puerto Rico’s office of mental health services provide help to rattled residents, including counseling to reassure them that it is safe to go home if their house has passed inspection. Counselors are suggesting that some people may feel safer by sleeping in their living room near an escape route.

Despite the hundreds who remain in camps,  most people have returned home as the tremors have diminished in frequency, Mr. Amparo said.

“If I had 800 people sleeping outside last night, I have to get that to zero,” he said in late February.

The Puerto Rico government reported that fewer than 600 people remained outdoors in 24 different official and informal shelters as of last week. But that does not count a large number of people camping out on their own properties.

FEMA records obtained by The New York Times show that as of Feb. 25, the agency still showed more than 3,000 people living in “emergent” conditions, based on information provided in applications for federal aid. This included nearly 600 who said they were staying in their vehicles and 1,603 living in tents.  The bulk of the people outside their homes had been denied aid because they had insufficient damage to their homes or had insurance, the records show.

FEMA records also show that most people who received cash assistance got less than $500.

Students of the damaged Hipolito Garcia Elementary School in Yauco are expected to study in event tarps erected in a baseball field.

Students of the damaged Hipolito Garcia Elementary School in Yauco are expected to study in event tarps erected in a baseball field.
And although 1,000 families qualified for placement in hotels, just 157 of them have taken the government up on the offer, as people refuse to leave their neighborhoods, Mr. Amparo said.

 Students of the damaged Hipolito Garcia Elementary School in Yauco are expected to study in event tarps erected in a baseball field. 


Jenniffer Santos-Hernández, a research professor at the University of Puerto Rico who has visited the camps, said the authorities have not done enough to provide temporary housing near people’s homes. She visited one community that is building one-room shacks with metal roofs that she said to look like something from a shantytown.

“There is no sense of urgency,” she said. “These are inhumane conditions.”

William Rodríguez Rodríguez, Puerto Rico’s administrator of public housing, said the government’s response plan has been adjusted along the way to deal with problems as they arose. The biggest challenge, he said, has been dealing with a disaster that, unlike a hurricane, does not seem to end.

“This directly affects people’s spirit,” he said. “We are used to an event that once it passed, it’s over and we can recover. In this case, it’s a constant effort.”

Mr. Rodríguez Rodríguez said the Puerto Rico government — which is bankrupt — is offering a combination of options to those with damaged homes, including federal housing vouchers and public housing. There is enough housing supply for everyone, he said, but people in the hard-hit south are going to have a hard time if they insist on staying in their neighborhoods. 

“They have to be open to moving,” he said.

“We are blind, and only the government has eyes,” the leaders said in a statement.

 The 8x12 foot wooden homes with metal roofs will not be suitable for hurricane season, which begins in June

 “We feel safe,” Amelia Vélez said of the temporary wooden homes in the encampment. “But we have to have a Plan B.”


Rosita Leomaris Hernández, one of the leaders, said officials seem oblivious to the many obstacles people face: the waiting list for federal Section 8 housing assistance is often a year-long; apartment rentals require a year lease, and some of the hotels FEMA is using are too close to the epicenter of most of the quakes. People who earn more than $1,000 a month did not qualify for most aid, she said.

“What the people are demanding is help to rebuild their homes,” she said.

In Yauco, Amelia Vélez, 38, and a few dozen members of her family who are appealing their denials from FEMA for money to repair their homes are making do with 8- by 12-foot wooden structures with metal roofs that a local pastor built for them at the edge of a cliff. She likes her new digs but recognizes that hurricane season starts on June 1, and the structures are not suitable for storms.

“We feel safe,” she said among the hammering of nails. “But we have to have a Plan B.”


January 22, 2020

Angry Residents (Puerto Rico) Took To The Streets on Monday About The Government Warehouse Locked Up With Hurricane Supplies




Image result for govt warehouse full of Emergency goods in PR
 Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired the island's emergency director Saturday after the incident set off a social media firestorm.
                         


Angry residents took to the streets of Puerto Rico on Monday. 
Fury over the government's mishandling of disaster aid following a spate of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, coupled with the recent discovery of unused supplies — some dating back to Hurricane Maria — is driving frustrated demonstrators to the gates of the governor's mansion. 
Fed up with what they say is rampant corruption, they are demanding the resignation of Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who just months ago served as the island's Justice Secretary. 
"Where is Wanda? She's not here. She's busy hiding disaster supplies!" crowds shouted on Monday, reviving chants hurled by protesters over the summer, when the public forced Gov. Ricardo Rosselló out of office. 
His ouster led to months of political turmoil which Vázquez has struggled to overcome. 
But the latest round of political unrest, including the dismissal of several top cabinet members, began on Saturday. 
A local blogger named Lorenzo Delgado had been tipped off about a government-run warehouse in the southern city of Ponce, where hundreds of people have been left homeless by the recent temblors.  
The warehouse, it turned out, was filled with supplies; pallets of expired baby food expired water, blue tarps, gas stoves, diapers, cots, air mattresses, and sheets sat untouched, even as thousands continue to sleep outside in decimated communities. 
Delgado posted his findings on Facebook. The live stream almost immediately drew a large, unruly crowd to the warehouse. 
A handful of people eventually forced open the doors and began distributing the goods. 
In one video of the incident posted by Primera Hora, a man reads out the date on one of the water pallets: "October 14, 2017," he shouts. 
"While people were suffering after Maria, this place was full of water," another man can be overheard saying. Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 16, 2017.
As the live images ricocheted across the Internet, people across the island grew irate. 
The head of the emergency management agency, Carlos Acevedo, issued a statement explaining that the supplies were being distributed and denied that the much-needed resources were going to waste. But his defense did not save him in the face of popular outrage.
Within hours, the island's governor fired him.
"There are thousands of people who have made sacrifices to bring help to the south and it is unforgivable that resources have been kept in a warehouse," Vázquez said. 
She added that Acevedo had mismanaged the government's supplies and failed the victims of Puerto Rico's earthquakes. 
The next day, Vázquez fired two more top officials in her cabinet — the Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar. 
Vázquez said the positions require public trust and that she had lost confidence in them. 
"They weren't able to personally tell me specifically where these [collection and distribution] centers were located, what they contained and whether an inventory was completed," she said, according to the Associated Press.
She also said the heads of agencies are responsible for informing the governor about the existence of available resources. 
The scandal erupted just days after the release of billions of dollars in aid from the Trump administration was announced last week. 
Image result for govt warehouse full of Emergency goods in PR
 This house in Puerto Rico Shows you the herculean effort for this family to fix their house. A well-constructed cement house on the ground floor that got inundated with water from the storm and the roof was also damaged. They decided to built on top and used the ground floor older hose to be their rock of salvation. The electric pole that was cut into pieces by the winds is now a thick cement pole on the right. I don't know if there is damaged to the house from the dozens of Earthquakes that hit the Island. I wish them the best...Adam

The federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling $8.2 billion, had been delayed for months by Secretary Ben Carson. He argued more stringent financial oversight measures were needed before the disaster funds could be distributed. 
The same day, President Trump declared a "major disaster" in Puerto Rico because of the earthquakes and ordered additional federal assistance to help the island recover. 
The governor said she was not worried the latest firings would further delay the federal funds. 
But Vázquez's moves did little to quell the growing outcry. Activists organized an island-wide strike on Monday.
Protester Awilda Rodriguez Lora said the flurry of earthquakes that have struck the island over the last few weeks along with the warehouse incident has re-opened old wounds that have not fully healed.
"After the hurricane ... we pushed so hard to go back to this pseudo-normality," Rodriguez told NPR. But, "when you have another natural disaster, remembering how the government dealt with our people, it brings this fight or flight feeling." 
She added that people's indignation did not dissipate when Gov. Rosselló was forced out of office last summer. 
It remains present, simmering under the surface, she explained. And the warehouse incident has only served to ignite a new spark.

January 14, 2020

Millions of Puerto Ricans Wait To See If Trump is Going to F* Over The Island Again!




     

After Passing Paper Towels After hurricane Maria, Trump Passes Some food that some Puerto Ricans Cooked in an Outside kitchen but he wanted the shot maybe to say he was cooking now for the Island.




CBS


Millions of Puerto Ricans are waiting to see if President Donald Trump will sign a major disaster declaration to authorize much-needed aid. Four thousand people are still in shelters and many others are sleeping outside after yet another powerful earthquake.
5.9 magnitude earthquake shook southwestern Puerto Rico on Saturday just before 9 a.m. It was the strongest since last week's 6.4 quakes. More than 2,000 tremors have occurred since December 28.

Saturday's earthquake didn't injure or kill anyone, but there were landslides and damage to homes and businesses.
"You never know what could happen. Anything can just go just like this," said Praxides Rodriguez, snapping her fingers. "Love your family, appreciate them, you know, just thank God every day for what you have."
Rodriguez and her husband have been living in a tent in Guanica, one of the hardest hit areas. Many people there have set up camps at the top of a mountain because that's where they feel safest as aftershocks continue.
Rodriguez said she's okay, but hopes more help is coming for those less able to take care of themselves.
"We don't know how much longer we're going to be here," she told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. "We have a lot of elderly that are really in bed, that can't even move out of bed."


UP CLOSE: A grandmother with Alzheimer's was in a bed in the front yard of her family's home, sunburned and sweating.

After a series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico, the family had no power, no water and couldn't find an ambulance. @DavidBegnaud reports: https://cbsn.ws/2QKczRy 


87 people are talking about this

Elizabeth Vanacore, with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, warned residents that they should still expect "some aftershocks." The network has more than 20 sensors installed around the island to detect earthquake magnitude. 
Mr. Trump has not yet signed the major disaster declaration. The island also hasn't received more than $18 billion in federal funding that was designated after hurricanes that struck more than two years ago, according to the Washington Post
But, FEMA's top official in Puerto Rico, Alex Amparo, said they're not waiting.
"We've got our teams out in the field," he said. "The tremendous amount of mutual aid that's happening from the island, I'm sure you saw on your way here."
Traffic was backed up Sunday in the mountains of the hardest-hit regions as Puerto Ricans came from near and far to bring supplies to their neighbors in need. Since Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans say they've learned they can't rely on the government in times of disaster.

January 10, 2020

Take A Look A Puerto Rico After The Two Devastating Earthquakes






A colonial-era church built in the late 1800s has stood in the central plaza of Guayanilla on the southern coast of Puerto Rico for more than 100 years.
On Tuesday morning, shocked locals inspected its ruins. 
“All that’s left is one wall and half of another wall,” Glidden Lopez, a spokesperson for the municipality of Guyanilla told the Miami Herald
Puerto Rico was hit by a devastating magnitude 6.4 earthquake around 4 a.m. Tuesday. It leveled homes, decimated at least one of Puerto Rico’s already-struggling schools, and collapsed an iconic natural rock bridge that had stood on Puerto Rico’s south coast for thousands of years.  
At least one person is confirmed dead, and Tuesday’s tremor — the strongest in 102 years — is only the latest in a series of more than 400 quakes more powerful than magnitude 2 that have shaken the island since late December. 
And the seismic activity is still ongoing: The U.S. Geological Survey reported dozens of aftershocks off Puerto Rico’s southern coast throughout the morning on Tuesday. Preliminary readings indicated that one of those clocked in at 5.6 on the Richter scale, hitting south of the island just hours after the larger quake. 
Gov. Wanda Vazquéz declared a state of emergency Tuesday, and top officials on the island said it was too soon to fully assess how bad the damage was. About 300,000 people on the island are without access to clean water, the governor said at a news conference
The island’s still reeling from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure. The electrical grid, which even prior to Maria badly needed repairs, hasn’t recovered. Post-Maria recovery essentially ground to a halt last year as federal funds dried up. 
That leaves the island vulnerable to earthquakes like the ones that have hit the island in recent weeks. 
Here’s what we know about the damage the quakes have caused so far: 
  • Puerto Rico’s two largest power plants were damaged, which plunged much of the island into a blackout on Tuesday. The largest had suffered “severe damage,” and might take days to get back online. After Maria, much of the island was without power for 11 months. Already, local officials are warning their residents that it could be weeks before power is fully restored. 
  • Hundreds of public schools have been shuttered due to budget cuts in the last three years in Puerto Rico. One of the ones that was still open, in Guanica, was badly damaged by Tuesday’s earthquake. 
  • The island’s largest hospital in San Juan was briefly without power on Tuesday morning, but Puerto Rican power authority told CBS News it had been restored by around 11 am
  • More than 300 people across Puerto Rico have taken to shelters, unable to return to their either collapsed or heavily damaged homes.
  • In Ponce, another city on Puerto Rico’s southern coast, cops reportedly evacuated 150 people from buildings that were in danger of collapsing, including a nursing home. 
  • Monday’s quake toppled the natural rock arch, Punta Ventana, a popular tourist spot in Guayanilla, on the island’s southern coast. “We’ve lost an important symbol of our town and our natural heritage,” Guayanilla Mayor Nelson Torres Yordán said, according to the Washington Post
All this has prompted the island’s government to ask for the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration. The Federal Emergency Management Authority says that that request is currently “under consideration.”

December 14, 2019

The Funds Approved As Disaster Relief for Puerto Rico are Being Held By HUD



                        HUD withholding billions Puerto Rico disaster aid







Thursday marked more than three months since HUD was supposed to begin the process of allowing Puerto Rico to apply for one of the withheld aid batches—about $10 billion—and 22 months since the funds were signed into law.

Jose Javier Santana holds a Puerto Rican flag he found on the ground after Hurricane Maria passed through on October 6, 2017, in Utuado, Puerto Rico. 
 
Rep. David Price (D-NC) accused HUD of "singling out Puerto Rico once again" with the second tranche of delayed money, which was on the brink of being delivered to Puerto Rico until the department in recent weeks suddenly chose not to approve the island nation's grant agreement. An aide for Price, who chairs an appropriations subcommittee that oversees HUD, said they've been notified by HUD that it signed the grant agreements for each state receiving the same tranche of funds—minus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Price said he's been offered no explanation by HUD as to why the grant agreements for the two U.S. territories were not signed, despite HUD giving their action plans the green light. The move has left him to wonder whether the White House may have played a role. The HUD officials who testified to Price in October said they would allow Puerto Rico to apply for the first tranche of illegally delayed aid "very soon" and claimed the decision to withhold it was based on HUD's overall concerns about corruption—not a directive from Secretary Ben Carson.

After the publication of this story, HUD provided the following statement, attributed to an unnamed department spokesman. The department noted that Puerto Rico has only spent a fraction of the funds they already have access to.

"The Administration has taken historic action to help the people of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Given the Puerto Rican government's history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most. This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers. In addition, it is worth noting that Puerto Rico already has access to $1.5 billion and has so far only spent $5.8 million—less than one percent of those funds."

President Donald Trump (L), holds an African American History Month listening session attended by the nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson (R) and other officials in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

HUD did not address Newsweek's questions about who determined the two tranches of aid should be withheld or why Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands' grant agreements were not signed. The White House did not respond for comment.

"They're asking for it, wouldn't you say?" Price told Newsweek in an interview on the prospects of defunding a portion of the agency. He chairs the appropriations subcommittee responsible for overseeing HUD.

"What the legal options might be, we need to consider. But what we do know, appropriations bills do offer leverage," Price said. "The best approach is not to have this problem. But if you do have it, you write a deadline into the bill. If that's ignored, then you start thinking about more drastic moves, like withholding funds for something HUD wants."

In October, the HUD officials would only go so far as to say Puerto Rico could begin applying for the funds "very soon."

"The other day, I had a mayor call me and ask, 'could we sue the federal government for their inefficiency, bureaucracy, and ineffectiveness?'" Cruz claimed.

The corruption argument by HUD and Republicans is moot, Democrats like Price have said because Congress placed safeguards that require the money to be monitored by HUD as it's dispersed. HUD's Office of Inspector General also pledged to conduct audits as additional oversight.

"I think all of us who are scratching our heads over this are wondering whether maybe all this traces back to some kind of order from the top or desire to please the president. We just don't know," Price said.

Throughout his tenure, Trump has made false claims about the U.S. territory, such as inflating the amount of hurricane relief aid and refusing to acknowledge the high death toll of Hurricane Maria. He's also feuded with Puerto Rican leaders, like Cruz and ousted Governor Ricardo Roselló.

And Price and his Democratic colleagues aren't the only ones who are casting doubts on HUD's motives. 

"It's blatant racism," Cruz, San Juan's mayor, told Newsweek. "It's blatant discrimination."

She doesn't like the way HUD handles its disaster block grant program to begin with, much less when the department singles out Puerto Rico.

Cruz said she feels the entire system is designed to help big businesses and powerful people profit from the misfortunes of those whose communities were devastated by tragedy, rather than operate as a system that aims to weed out corruption. She said local governments are required to choose from a certain list of contractors or companies to complete the major projects that they outline in action plans for HUD, which are required in order to receive the federal grants.

"For anyone from the federal government to be talking about corruption with the most corrupt president of the United States sitting on a chair an inch away from being impeached," Cruz added, "it's really the pot calling the kettle black."

Prior arguments show that HUD contends that recent events are why, in part, they need to keep a close eye on such a large amount of money. The department maintains financial monitors on the island and has reiterated its concerns over Puerto Rico's recent political unrest with Roselló's ouster and a debt crisis that has for years handicapped the local government.

Cruz doesn't buy HUD's concerns, however, citing the safeguards that Congress put in place to have the aid routinely monitored for fraud or waste.

When aid is withheld from an island nation that's been devastated by hurricane after hurricane year after year, Cruz explained, those who don't live in Puerto Rico fail to realize the real-world effects that will have on local communities. And when HUD officials continue to offer few or no explanations, she feels it only hinders their preparation for the next Hurricane Maria.

"People die because of the federal government's and Trump's ineffectiveness," the mayor said. "People continue to die."

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows that Puerto Rico is fourth worse affected globally in terms of fatalities caused by extreme weather.

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